Section 8 is the program administered at the federal level by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. The program pays all or some of the rent for low-income people. This is a massive program that landlords rely on for income and tenants need for housing. With so much money on the table, the temptation to commit fraud can strike landlords, administrators or tenants.
Bribery, false billing and side payments
A property owner or administrator for Section 8 housing holds a position of power over people who are often desperate for housing. Strong competition for limited rental units could cause landlords or administrators to solicit bribes from applicants.
False billing for Section 8 funds on an empty unit represents another obvious form of fraud. Additionally, collecting public funds for a unit occupied by someone who does not qualify for housing benefits breaks the law.
Landlords have been known to demand side cash payments from tenants on top of what the government is paying for the rental unit. Another form of fraud occurs when landlords lease to relatives in violation of conflict-of-interest rules.
Sexual harassment and extortion
The need for housing can make a tenant vulnerable to sexual advances from a landlord. A person might go so far as to demand sex acts in exchange for continuing to rent the unit.
Frauds committed by tenants
Criminal charges against tenants who commit fraud arise mostly from underreporting income. This activity could take the form of forging documents, destroying financial statements or concealing assets.
HUD’s Office of Inspector General
Anyone involved in Section 8 housing may report suspected fraud to this federal agency. People who have been accused of committing such an act need to mount a strong defense to the charges.